The Hill is running an article claiming that Ron Paul is in trouble in his district predicting he will not win the nomination to retain his seat. I certainly don’t know enough about the local politics in his district to say for sure, but this article doesn’t pass the smell test. The article from the beginning read like something from someone with an agenda as opposed to an impartial observer, and this is made clear as it ends with “Good riddance.”
My bet is that Ron Paul is reelected to his House seat, assuming he intends to seek reelection. I certainly hope he does. While I disagree with Paul’s conservativism on social issues, any Republican who is likely to win in Texas will have equally conservative views but would not likely share Paul’s views on the war and civil liberties. I think libertarians have been mistaken in seeing the Republicans as allies, but I would rather have Paul as a Republican Congressman, despite his flaws, than a typical Republican in the hopes that Paul could nudge the Republicans in a more libertarian direction.
There remains the question of whether Paul would decide to run as a third party candidate as opposed to seeking reelection to the House. Rasmussen has conducted a poll with Paul running as a third party candidate. The results are Clinton 42%, Giuliani 39%, and Paul 8%. Paul receives more support from Democrats than Republicans. Most likely his support comes from a combination of libertarians, the far right extremist groups which back him, and some Democrats due to his opposition to the war. Democrats who only see him in the debates, or perhaps read his recent interview in Rolling Stone, might look on him favorably.
If Paul could receive 8% of the vote it would be about eight times greater than what the Libertarian Party could normally achieve. There is also the question as to whether there is much room for movement. While it is possible Paul might improve on this, my suspicion is that his support would drop as the race goes on. His upside potential would come from greater exposure now that he has more money to work with. I suspect that those who might vote for Paul are people who pay close attention to politics and already are aware of him.
Paul’s problem is that many of the Democratic voters who now consider voting for him due to his position on Iraq are likely to change their minds when they consider his other positions and record. Democrats and many independents who oppose the war are not likely to vote for a candidate who opposes abortion rights and does not believe in separation of church and state. While Paul will receive more attention than he has in the past, this is likely to include more coverage of his views and his affiliation with far right extremist groups leading to an erosion of his support.
If we really do have a Clinton vs. Giuliani race as polled by Rasmussen, many will be hoping for a viable third party alternative. In the same poll mentioned above, Ralph Nader does even worse than Paul at 4%. Another three way poll with Michael Bloomberg running still has Clinton winning, but Bloomberg does better than Paul with 11%. Perhaps Paul’s 8% result is largely a reflection of the desire for an alternative to Clinton and Giuliani minus those who recognize Paul’s negatives.